BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBMA) - Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore is suspended from the bench without pay for the duration of his term, the Court of the Judiciary announced Friday.
The decision comes after the Judicial Inquiry Commission accused Moore of directing Alabama’s probate judges to defy the federal courts when it comes to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
The 9-member judiciary court found Moore guilty of the following judicial ethics violations:
Moore was also taxed by the court for the costs of the proceedings.
PDF: Court of the Judiciary ruling on Roy Moore
Moore’s term ends January 2019. The Alabama Supreme Court will continue to act with eight members in his absence.
On Wednesday, an ethics trial for Moore continued late into the afternoon.
Moore testified for about an hour. He called charges against him ridiculous and said he never directed probate judges to defy federal courts. After today's ruling was handed down, Moore issued a statement saying the decision "reflects the corrupt nature of our political and legal system at the highest level."
Full statement from Moore:
"This decision clearly reflects the corrupt nature of our political and legal system at the highest level.
"After the Attorney General of Alabama declined to prosecute this case, the JIC employed the former legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which filed the charges against me, at a cost of up to $75,000.00 to the taxpayers of Alabama.
"During the trial which lasted approximately four hours, the JIC produced no witnesses, no affidavits, and no evidence to meet their burden of proving by “clear and convincing” evidence that the Administrative order of January 6, 2016 violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
"This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because of outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda.
"This opinion violates not only the legal standards of evidence but also the rule of law which states that no judge can be removed from office except by unanimous vote."
However, the Judicial Inquiry Commission says that's exactly what Moore did in his January 6 order to probate judges.
The order came months after the United States Supreme Court declared every same-sex couple has the fundamental right to marry.
Moore’s January 6 order told probate judges they were still under an order from the Alabama Supreme Court, stating they had a ministerial duty not to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
PDF: Roy Moore's Jan. 6 order to probate judges
Judge John Carroll with the Judicial Inquiry Commission said Moore refused to accept the supremacy of the federal courts and asked he be removed from office, which would have required a unanimous vote from the Court of the Judiciary.
“He's fostered in the minds of the public that the rule of the law doesn't matter, that judges are free to defy the Supreme Court and the orders of the lower federal court if they believe its appropriate,” said Carroll.
During his testimony, Moore was asked, “Up until this time in this matter, have you encouraged anyone to defy federal court orders?”
“It would be against the principals I hold dear to tell somebody to defy a federal court or a state court order,” Moore replied. “That is their decision.”
Moore called his January 6 order a status update, not a way to provide the judge's guidance.
Moore was reelected to the Supreme Court after he was removed from the bench in 2003 for defying federal courts when he refused to remove a Ten Commandments statue.